The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. [...]
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.
Kossack TheBlaz, in his excellent diary brainstorming questions for Hayden's hearing, focused on a disturbing 2002 quote by Gen. Michael Hayden. Hayden testified that he personally met with top level executives of companies to implement data mining programs:
I have met personally with prominent corporate executive officers. (One senior executive confided that the data management needs we outlined to him were larger than any he had previously seen). [...] And last week we cemented a deal with another corporate giant to jointly develop a system to mine data that helps us learn about our targets.
So this brainchild of Hayden was implemented with the help of "prominent corporate officers." Well, not the corporate officers of Qwest, who the article states refused to participate because of concerns about the legality of the program.
Which leads us to the next question. Why did the remaining major telecoms allow the government access to consumer data on such a large scale? Since Qwest was allowed to dissent, can we presume that there was no legal obligation to help with the data-mining? See, unlike FISA foreign intelligence surveillance (where telecoms are required by law to comply with any government request), the article states that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth are working "under contract" with the NSA.
A "contract," as in there may have been consideration involved, a quid pro quo if you will to sell access to the government without our knowledge. Indeed, the sources say that NSA was clearly willing to pay for the information.
So how much do you think a record of your calls is worth? A record of every call you every made? Let's speculate, shall we? Records of our calls are sold on the internet for roughly $150. Times that by the "tens of millions" of American customers whose calls are data-mined, and I would guess that billions are being paid to buy off the privacy of each and every American.
Call up your phone company and ask them why they are profiting off of selling your private info to the government:
Update: Also, just a reminder that AT&T is being sued for its role in the domestic spying program and data-mining. In a class action lawsuit, no less. If you would like to make a donation to the plaintiff, the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, click here.
Update #2: As eightball0 points out , you can access customer service by pressing "0" on your landline or 611 on your cell. More contact info in the linked diary.